Eating out is a major part of our social life. It can be comfortable, fun and entertaining. Here’s how:

  • When you first enter a restaurant, ask your companion or a restaurant staff person to describe the layout of the restaurant so that you can decide where you would like to sit. It’s useful to know about tables and booths, windows (to avoid glare), steps, entertainment, restrooms, etc.
  • When walking to your table, ask your guide to place your hand on the back of the chair where you are going to sit.
  • If glare is a problem, it’s okay to ask to be seated where the glare will not bother you or to have window blinds adjusted.
  • When you get to the table, you may want to ask for a description of what’s on the table—such as candles or flower arrangements.
    A man using a handheld magnifying device to assist with reading a menu

    In restaurants, you can use a simple handheld magnifier to read the menu.

    A magnifier with a light might help.
    A man signing credit card slip with signature guide
  • Try to notice when your beverage and food are served. You might want to ask if everyone at your table has received their meal before you begin eating.
  • It’s okay to ask someone at your table to tell you how the food is arranged on your plate.
  • When it’s time to pay, ask someone to tell you if the bill has arrived and how much it is. If paying with a credit card or check, you can ask for help writing in the tip and signing the receipt or check. You might want to keep a signature guide with you for this type of occasion. A guide can help you sign credit card slips and checks easily.

Reading Menus-Ten Practical Tips

1.First, always ask the waiter to speak to you directly.

2. If you use braille, ask if a menu is available in braille. If one isn’t available, ask if the restaurant plans to provide braille menus in the future.

3. The first time you go out after experiencing vision loss, you may want to choose a food that you feel comfortable eating.

4. If you are unable to read the menu, ask someone at your table to help you.

5. If you are eating alone, ask the waiter to help you with the menu.

6.You may be overwhelmed by a large menu but may have a general idea of what you want to eat, such as a fish or pasta dish. If this is the case, ask the waiter which fish or pasta dishes he or she would recommend.

7. Ask about daily specials.

8. Read the menu online before going to the restaurant– most menus are available on menu and restaurant websites, and you can use assistive technology and other techniques to read them, just the way you do any other website. If you can bring the online menu with you to the restaurant by using a notetaker or other portable device, even better!

9. Many restaurants now have QR codes for reading their menus.

10. Start a menu collection. Many restaurants will give you a menu that you can study at home and use to pre-select dishes for your next visit

For information on where to purchase products mentioned in this article, such as magnifiers and signature guides, view Helpful Products and Technology for Living with Vision Loss – VisionAware.